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This article was submitted by Jill Whiter, founding member of the Eurobodalla Natural History Society (now available on and author of the Eurobodalla Naturalist's diary.

To contact Jill phone 02 4471 7007.

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Spring Draws Closer at the Bower

by Jll Whiter

King Parrot

King Parrot

King Parrot
Gang Gang
Crimson Rosella pair

It may well feel like winter still, and a dry and frosty winter it has been too, but the birds are already looking towards the spring breeding season. The flocks of Brown and Striated Thornbills are breaking up as the birds form courting pairs, though they still come together in loose foraging groups. There are advantages to be gained from being part of a foraging party: many eyes spy more food and there's safety in numbers when predators are about.

A Golden Whistler is tuning-up with a tentative part call, but the Grey Shrike-thrush is still in winter mode and greets the sun with a short, sharp "bill". Later on he will launch into harmonious song, justifying his Latin tag of Colluricincla harmonica.

White-throated Treecreepers are becoming more vocal along the Illawong Track, launching into a variety of calls kept specially for the breeding season. Little White-browed Scrubwrens are buzzing excitedly in the undergrowth and chasing pairs dash low across the track. There seems to be an Eastern Yellow Robin clinging to every third or fourth tree trunk, with that curious sideways position that is so characteristic of the species; such trusting little birds, surveying passers-by with a solemn dark eye, their clear lemon-yellow breasts brightening the winter dullness of the bush.

There are Crimson Rosella pairs everywhere, the males sporting their rich red and blue plumage, new suits for the breeding season. They chatter quietly and confidentially to each other, breaking off occasionally with a clear, bell-like 'ping' to let the world know of their whereabouts. On the ground, they walk with the sore-footed gait of ageing Parisian waiters, in contrast to their graceful flight through the canopy. Perched in a dark green wattle, they glow like the deep heart of a winter fire.
Exquisite little Spotted Pardalotes,the Faberge ornaments of the bush, have chosen their partners for the season and both are already excavating a nest burrow in a convenient bank. Sometimes the burrow is a metre long, an enormous task for such tiny creatures, and at the end of it there will be a nesting chamber lined with soft grasses. The male does the food run and guards the burrow entrance, chittering angrily and threatening dreadful consequences to any creature daring to come near. A brave little fellow.

The activity in the bird world reminds us that spring is not far away, and we only have a few more weeks of winter to endure or enjoy, whichever is our preference of weather.

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